Me time, self care, looking after you, is now finally being promoted in all Social media platforms, #livingmybestlife may not always seem achievable and often our wheels of life are bottom or top heavy. I’m always on the quest to live mine, three years ago I joined the Walk 1000 mile challenge and I can honestly say it has only benefited my life.
To put my boots on, walk out of the front door and get fully absorbed in the great outdoors is one of lifes best medicines. It allows thinking time, planning time, fresh air time. There are days when I can’t be bothered, but if I drag my sorry self out, the endorphins start flowing and life seems a little more bearable.
So I’m still walking, I’ve actually only got 50 miles to go until I hit my 1000 mile target for this year. The miles I’ve hiked this year have been varied, mountainous, coastal, bloody hot, bloody wet, hard going, pace setting, memorable and some routes never wanting to do again.
I was overjoyed when my hubby finally decided to join me on some of my adventures, it’s so wonderful to walk together, albeit he is always ahead of me ‘Daddy longlegs’ . I’m definitely not as quick as I was, I blame the extras kilos I’m carrying ;).
I’ve embarked on two Caminos this year, the first, walking part of the ancient route of the Camino Mozarabe from Malaga heading inland, 4 days, 100km’s . This was tough, extreme temperatures, mountain climbs, getting lost and not many refreshment breaks or places on route certainly challenged us. Although not far from home, we felt miles away, swallowed by the terrain.
I’ve just completed my second Camino of the year the Camino Ingles from Ferrol to Santiago de Compostela, a wonderful route from coast to city, deep green nature, forests and flora, Galician hospitality, bread to die for and wonderful wines. Few pilgrims line this route but the welcomed ‘Buen Camino’ traditional greeting soothes the soul. Weather was sent to test us, we’re fair weather walkers and we got WET !!! Howling winds and lashing rain accompanied us for four days out our five, gung ho spirit had to kick in and hysterical singing helped.
My next voyage is to India, I really can’t believe it, my first long-haul trip in 16 years, I’m so looking forward to the assault to my senses, spices and spiritualism. My boots will be packed and I hope to embark on a life memorable sunset hike in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Walking has opened my mind, saved my soul and allowed me to stand and stare….Long live my boots.
Milestones, challenges, resolutions, all points in time that make me stop and think, re-evaluate. As some of you may know, I love a good personal challenge, walking, losing weight, writing, growing my business La Rosilla to name a few. Challenges give me something to focus on, give me a view of life from a different perspective, they suit my all or nothing, addictive personality. Some challenges I continue, some go on the back burner and get relit frequently, others are fads that get the been there done that t-shirt 😉
By far the biggest challenge that I have continued is my Walk 1000 Mile challenge, I’m on year 3 and on target. Walking has changed my outlook on life, made me physically and mentally fitter has helped me avoid Spinal surgery (for the time being), allowed me to stand and stare, climb to the highest heights, I would have never have climbed before due to my minds limitations. There are days when I think, really, do I have to? No, of course, I don’t, but I know I’ll feel so much better after I have. There are days when I really wish I had more time, maybe to take weeks off and explore new Caminos or famous pilgrim routes. Those days will come and I will tick them off my bucket list.
I am so chuffed this year my husband has decided to join me on my walking adventures and we can share the sense of achievement together. One extra challenge for me, I thought I was a quick walker, but oh my his pace and long legs push me to the max. I’m fine if I concentrate and walk mirroring his pace, but as I daydream, the next thing I know I’m walking in his shadow.
So why the 99 Days header?
Never thought I’d or should I say we’d get to 99 days, well actually I knew we would, set our minds to it and do it, that’s our motto! But as I sit here and type ‘we have not drunk alcohol for 99 days’ I am immensely proud of us both, our goal of 100 days is soon upon us, and I felt I needed to write my thoughts down for purely personal reasons. We have never faltered over the past 99 days, and only surprisingly wanted a drink on a few occasions, yes we’ve felt there at times something has been missing and we’ve had to learn to adapt greatly to lifes and situations. This blog is for me to have something to look back, something to remind me of how I feel at this point in time.
None of my comments are judging others, merely making observations, god knows I’ve been and said these things often in the past.
Oh my, what a personal challenge it’s been, more interestingly the social experiment has been fascinating. Many people class levels of drinking differently, the label alcoholic has many guises, just because we’re not swigging voddie out of a milk bottle at breakfast doesn’t mean many of us do not rely on a drink in most parts of our lives, to celebrate, to commiserate, to numb a bad day, yardarms and wine’ o’clock just become everyday vocabulary. A chilled Rosado with Sardinas on the beach, a Copa de fino whilst I prepare a Sunday lunch, a few cold beers after a long walk, a big bold Ribera del Duero with the local queso de cabra curado, Gin of every botanical, no harm in all that I know, but counting up the units each week is quite mindblowing. Challenging too, that I’m surrounded by alcohol in my business, entertaining, catering and events, wine and sherry tastings, good food, fine wine go hand in hand.
So we decided to have a change, see life on the sober side, embrace occasions and issues without a bevvie to bolster us up and break the habit.
Things we’ve noticed positive and negative :
Alcholol is the only drug, you have to defend yourself not taking.
Some people perceive you as boring for not being like them.
Some people don’t want to socialise with you if you’re not drinking.
Some people constantly ask. why would we not drink?
Some people ask, Is it nearly over, will you be back drinking again soon?
Some people have said, let me know when you’re drinking again and we can go out, or we can come to visit.
Weekends felt similar to weekdays, we needed to change that with more outdoor activities.
We’ve got so much more done on the land.
We’ve eaten our weight in chocolate.
Sleep has improved greatly.
Anxiety has diminished.
I can only drink 2 alcohol-free beers.
I am the one who asks for a cuppa at a dinner party. Shock horror 😉
I can still go out and have a good time, but know when the party is over.
I haven’t danced on any tables.
I’m more present in the moment.
We’re enjoying goal setting and leisure pursuits together.
Quit Lit helps.
Online communities have your back.
So what’s our plan ? This is the question over the last few weeks as we near the end of our 100 Day Sober challenge, we keep mulling over. We’re not craving a drink, don’t even fancy one, can we imagine not ever drinking again, no not really. Can we moderate? hope so, can we stick to some ground rules, or will we revert?
Questions questions, another positive by just saying NO is the freedom it gives you just to get on with life and catch dreams.
One way to cool down, in the high summer temperatures is to enjoy a glass or bowl full of chilled Gazpacho. I keep a glass jug in the fridge to let flavours develop, and enjoy as and when. Healthy, revitalising and rehydrating, perfect for an alfresco lunch.
There are many varieties and personal touches and changes people make to their recipes, using the abundance of fresh local and homegrown produce ensures a perfect result every time. Adding our own organic Extra, virgin, olive oil always makes me smile, a slug or two of aged sherry vinegar adds piquancy, together with fresh picked herbs, basil and mint are my go to’s.
In my recipe I made today I add watermelon, these a being sold pile high by the roadsides in Andalucia at the moment,
It’s our ” Living the dream‘ anniversary, or that’s what we thought and called it when we left England many moons ago, lock, stock & barrel. Yes, it’s our anniversary of ‘ The good life‘ on the mountain. Evolution, of our family growing up and changing throughout the years and embarking on their own futures and decisions. Evolution of our land & home, simplifying now where we can, having fulfilled our dreams and tick boxes of owning every farm animal, pigs, goats, chickens, horses…. being self-sufficient, with our veggie patch, almonds and olives, learning the hard way through successes, our own organic extra virgin olive oil, failures of dying plants due to lack and no water through the summer months, & upset of animals being killed by Mr Fox and stote, we’ve bought that T-shirt and worn it. I’m happy now with my Olive orchard, hard work but rewarding, my back door herb and lettuce garden, and wildflowers and gardening to suit the terrain.
We still look at our view and think WOW, we still are grateful we live on the side of a mountain Wow, we still can’t believe that we have 3 bilingual children Wow, 2 now adults using their life swallows and amazons life experiences to enrich their futures.
Always work to do.
Times have been tough, but wouldn’t they have been anywhere? That’s life ! Bureaucracy drives us nuts, but we work through it and hold our heads up high. My ‘little’ Foodie passion is steadily and organically growing into a business I am proud of, sharing our lifestyle, local produce, customs and traditions. We welcome people from all over the world to have a glimpse of rural mountain life, we cook for celebrations and occasions, people will remember for years. We have made many like-minded friends always with a common theme of eating, drinking and making merry.
My writings are getting more sporadic on here over the years, a few reasons for this; procrastination, I always find other things I should or think I should be doing, but once I get going I think, “Why don’t I do this more often?” Then there’s my brain fog, Hashimoto’s induced, which has really affected my vocabulary and ability to think what to write. Hey ho, I have the memories, experiences and thanks to social media, I’m an IG’aholic @larosilla, I can share in other ways.
Our life here still surprises us, often flabbergasts us, we are still learning the idiosyncracies of living in a different country, habits, mannerisms and morals, but when the going gets tough, our terrace and view awaits, our table is filled with visiting family and friends and my hiking boots are itching to be worn and mountains climbed.
My goodness it was a long time coming, after what has seemed an age of rain, wind and storms and cooler than average temperatures, we woke up at the weekend to blue skies and sunshine.
We enjoyed breakfast alfresco, and drinks and canapés with friends before a long leisurely sunday lunch.
We even got up to Sierra Nevada, to ski before they ended their season. The constant rain fall gave us plenty of fresh white snow, and the clear skies created the perfect skiing day. Tired bodies and rosie cheeks were sign of good day had by all, a short 2 hour journey from La Rosilla, we were home for supper and sipping a relaxing glass of red.
Normal service resumed ! Por Fin ! 🙂
Now the annual pre-summer preparations must start in earnest at La Rosilla, weeding, olive grove maintenance, pruning and burning and then the white paint-a-thon for outside. Windows are flung open wide to let the air flow through our casa to dry everything out and let the fresh air in.
The mountains are full of wild flowers, orchids, sweet peas, garlics and borage, bees are happy gatehring their pollen and birds busy making nests and singing their hearts out.
I’ve put my hiking boots back on, and trying once more to up my game, get fit and strong to do another leg of The Camino de Santiago in June, this year I’m going to do the Finisterre and Muxia route, along the coastal paths to the the end of the world ;). It’s definitely breathtaking in more ways then one, climbing and hiking the Montes de Malaga, but I’m so grateful I live in this stunning part of the world, and these routes are on more doorstep, ever changing through the seasons and at this time of year in their prime.
How do you like your steak cooked? I won’t judge, well maybe only a little 😉 Are you from the cremated side or just off mooing? For me, it’s rare or poco hecho as they call it here in Spain, plump, rested and juicy.
It took me years to master the perfect steak, always looked and seemed so easy, I think it boiled down to the quality of the meat and spending just a little more to get well-aged beef, and not being afraid to crank up the heat under my griddle pan, and smoke the house out for a few minutes. Now yes I can cook one, and I love it simply with fresh asparagus and oven roasted tomatoes, salt flakes and a good grinding of black pepper, enjoyed with a rich full-bodied red, or my favourite, a powerful, well rounded Oloroso sherry.
There is one restaurant not too far from us though, whose steaks are legendary, and if the opportunity arises and I’m feeling in the need for a meat-fest and my OH is paying 😉 I’m there. El Charco is a family run restaurant in a small village, Los Romanes in the Axarquia, that looks down over the stunning Lake Vinuela. This venta does typical Spanish and Andaluz dishes very well, and the steaks are to die for. Cooked in a wood oven, served on the hottest terracotta platters, served to choice, perfectly every time. Fresh sauces to accompany them mine always a blue cheese, OH’s peppercorn.
Starters too are always en point, last nights special was ‘Sopa de Ajo‘ Garlic soup, with asparagus and poached egg, soothing for the soul, and laced with aphrodisiac properties.
As long as both lovers consume the earthy cloves the magical powers of romance manifest, that was all good as I just knew that my OH would have Gambas Ajillo, hot, bubbling, garlic prawns. Valentines was going great guns, and bless the restaurant they presented each lady with a Red Carnation (not my favourite) and the men got a look in too, with a miniature DICK sorry DYC and some choccies.
So going Out, Out on a school night was a win, and we were tucked up in bed with a cuppa at 10.30pm, seems the garlic had worn off, and our resolutions of knowing when to stop on the alcohol front, were working and they say romance isn’t dead 😉 !!
Never will I tire of ‘Tapeando’ with friends and family, this is the art and I like to call it that, of enjoying Tapas from one place to the next. A small bite and a copa de vino or Jerez, standing at a bustling bar, or in the market. Maybe indulging in a little lengthier time and sitting at the table an ordering, yet just another to fill the spot, or to sample the new delicacy or gastro tapa to be served.
From simple but tasty local cheeses and olives to mindblowing molecular gastronomy to please the most die-hard foodie like myself or Masterchef in the making. Malaga delivers on every count, and never disappoints with new innovational bars, alongside cultural and historical institutions of food.
A recent visit with friends, with slightly aching feet, we decided on a one-stop Tapas lunch at the renowned El Tapeo de Cervantes this intimate and cosy restaurant, which is located in the heart of the historical Malaga centre, just steps away from the Cervantes theatre and Picasso’s Plaza Merced, delights with its traditional interior and extensive and exceptional menu of Tapas.
They offer tapas of every guises and taste, listed in an informative way so diners can create their own perfect ‘Tapeo’, if overwhelmed by the choice and you don’t know where to start, let the professionals choose for you. We did this, not overwhelmed persay, but with 3 differing tastes, we thought let’s go out of our comfort zone and see what they serve.
WOW – Course after course arrived at our table, tapas and raciones (larger plates) of seafood, fish, pork and, duck, enjoyed with a chilled Albariño and a robust Ribera Del Duero. Each exquisitely plated and served with flair and introduction. As each dish was delivered there was a moment or two or me wondering ‘How much is this going to cost’…I was paying 😉 But on the delivery of the bill, feeling very indulged and complete, I was delighted – 3 people, 6 Glasses of wine, copious tapas. 65€ !! Perfecto 🙂 Not many cosmopolitan cities in the world, where you can experience that luxury and service on that budget.
Duck with apple & five spice.
Carpaccio Presa Iberico
Leaving the restaurant on a chilly but bright winter afternoon, we needed to walk off our long lunch, obviously taking in Picasso himself and taking the obligatory photo for my friends, to complete their whistle-stop tour of my inspiring and beautiful city of Malaga, with promises to return.
I love the way the Spanish have a verb ‘To breakfast’ Desayaunar it’s what you do, together with friends or on your own to ‘take 5’, mid-morning when you hit that slump and coffee is needed, and you just need that something to get you through to late lunch.
Over the years of me living here, I’ve learned the hard way when making appointments for around 10am, only to get there to be told the individual is ‘doing breakfast’, of course, why wouldn’t they be ? silly me. If you can’t beat them join them. A custom I now relish with gusto.
The traditional Spanish breakfast, of Pan con Tomate y Café, ticks most boxes, fresh baked bread, local olive oil, fresh tomatoes and caffeine – That’ll do nicely. Sometimes though, I enjoy to explore and follow recommendations of my fellow foodies. A day in the city of Málaga, off the mountain at La Rosilla and away from local village traditional eateries, affords me the opportunity to indulge.
Often the smallest places can pack the biggest punch. Desal cafe is located in an unassuming street, with a small façade but with cute tables to enjoy people watching and the world go-by. The interior is bright and welcoming and the menu certainly whets the appetite. Tostados, brunches, home-made sweet treats and pastries, all plated and served with flair and unique touches.
A leisurely breakfast was the order of the day, vitamin-packed of course, healthy yes, indulgent double yes 😉
The Eggs Benedict platter came with perfect oozy poached eggs, creamy hollandaise and thick cut cooked ham, this rich dish was accompanied by a light and fresh fruit salad over natural yoghurt and crunchy granola. Fresh squeezed orange juice and my favourite illy coffee topped it all off. Service was friendly, unobtrusive and prompt. I definitely would go back to Desal Cafe, with friends and while away a little more time, and could even skip lunch and wait to ‘Meriendar‘ 😉
Suitably refreshed and revitalised, more mooching in Malaga commenced.
Eager to explore new food trends, tastes and, seasonal produce that are hitting the Malaga streets, I was not disappointed with my first visit to Raw Attitude in the trendy Soho district of the city. A small and intimate eatery with a fabulously stocked vegan, raw food and, health supplies shop.
Choosing to seat alfresco and watch the world go by, I choose the ‘Menu del Dia’ a set 3 course lunch. Slightly pricier than most menus, but the love, freshness of ingredients and the selection and generosity of portion size made up for it.
The Vegan menu with my many raw components was fresh, zingy and palate pleasing. Recipes that were new to me and sparked an interest to investigate further.
To start I had the lightest, Thai broth with lemongrass and tofu, warming and comforting soup for the soul, I could just feel the goodness working through my body.
The main course was a delightful ‘Buddha Bowl‘ of tastes, sweet, sour, crunchy, fresh and that perfect umami hit. I particularly savored the Tabbouleh made with millet and fresh herbs. This huge bowl of delights was so filling but left me feeling satisfied, not uncomfortable.
Pud felt like a naughty treat a Cocoa Cookie, maybe ladened with calories but totally full of rich antioxidants and feel good factor.
Whether Vegan, Veggie or hard-core carnivore, take a moment to explore and find this little gem of a place and tickle your tastebuds with something new.
Some of us, or most are us are cutting back one way or another, it just seems the January rite of passage. Some of you may have already thought ‘tosh’ to the resolutions, January is tough enough as it is without, watching my weight, losing the booze, or tightening the purse strings, if that’s your choice embrace – Hell yeah.
Well, I’m sticking on in there on all 3 counts for the time being, but when it gets to TGIF (Thank god it’s Friday) I need something to feel different, to look forward to, to make believe it’s party-time. Maybe one day it’ll all be fine and it’ll feel the norm for me, feeling righteous and holier than thou, I do believe in Unicorns but miracles ???
Many folks are lucky enough to have a Take-away of some description on their doorstep or around the corner, but at this time of year that could just be a little too tempting, so for once I’m glad I live on a mountain, back of beyond, second on the right. There are no ‘meals on wheels‘ here, tell a lie there is, IT’S ME delivering luxury dinner party meals to holidaymakers and locals, that’s another story, but you can check it out here 😉
So I’m going to fake it a family favourite Sweet and Sour Pork and whilst preparing it I shall sip on a virtuous, totally VIRGIN Bloody Mary. Just to preach a tad, there are double benefits to making your own FakeAway, you know what is in it, making it much healthier and it costs so much less. WooHoo ! and as for the Virgin Mary, well that’s even one of your 5 a day- GET IN !
I will serve the Sweet and Sour Pork with roasted, sweet potato wedges dusted with Chinese 5 spice, on a bed of steamed Pak Choi. It looks fiddly, but it’s not, prepare everything then get cooking.
1 can unsweetened pineapple chunks, undrained
3 tablespoons cornflour
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup cold water, divided
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pork loin, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 head of broccoli florets off, stalk finely chopped
4 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 small onion sliced
Drain pineapple, reserving 1/2 the juice, set aside.
In a small bowl, mix 2 of the tablespoons cornflour, 1 tbs water, garlic powder and 1 tbs pineapple juice.
Put pork in a zip lock bag, or bowl and then add the above sauce and coat well, cover and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, cayenne and remaining water, cornflour and rest of pineapple juice until smooth; set aside.
In a wok over medium-high heat, stir-fry pork in 1 tablespoon oil until no longer pink; remove and keep warm.
Stir-fry the broccoli, carrots, onion in remaining oil until tender. Stir cornflour and soy mixture and add to the pan.
Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Add pork and pineapple, until everything is piping hot.
Serve with potato wedges, cauli rice or basmati rice – add fresh coriander too.